22 May 2017
Carbon footprints, going green, and eco warriors. They all sound like
galactic warriors in some kind of sci-fi, but eco-efficiency is set to
be a huge part of Ireland’s future with kids learning about recycling
from an early age.
Most of us want to do our bit to help the planet, but it can be tough to know where to begin.
If you’re in the process of building your own home, your energy and heating system is a great place to start. You’re not tied to a temperamental gas boiler from the 1990s so you have far more choice. (You even have the option of embracing renewables!).
And the environment is only one factor to consider when choosing your heating system - the swift rise in fuel costs means your energy choice has never been more important to your pocket.
So what factors should you consider when building your home? Here are 5 to bear in mind to ensure you’re getting the most value and efficiency from your energy system.
1. Cost to fuel
When deciding on the right fuel for your build, cost is obviously going to be a major influence.
You’ll need to factor in the cost of the actual fuel before it is burnt or used (for something like oil and gas, the prices can vary). You’ll also need to keep in mind installation costs as well as any associated standing charges.
2. Cost effectiveness
The efficiency factor delivered cost is the cost of the fuel before it is burnt or used. So if you take the delivered cost of electricity and use it in an electric heater that is 100 per cent efficient, the used cost is the same as the delivered cost. This may not apply to other ‘burnt’ fuels that will result in a certain amount of heat loss, etc.
A heat pump that uses some electricity to ‘move’ heat from outside the building to inside will result in an input of one kilo-watt-hour and receive three to five kilowatts as the ‘used’ figure. Using electricity on a ‘night-rate’ can save you money if you are using the rate efficiently, as will the under floor heating combined with another heat pump combination.
For which fuel is likely to be most cost effective, consult Sustainable Energy Ireland’s Fuel Cost Comparison Sheet.
3. Energy efficiency
The true cost of your fuel choice is not just about installation but also about long-term running costs.
Luckily, the greatest opportunities to innovate lie in a new build. Being energy efficient will provide massive savings each year, which will add to your comfort levels.
Your house’s energy rating is a figure that relates the amount of energy you use in a year to the internal floor area of your home so that comparisons can be made from one year to another.
To calculate your home’s energy rating, start by working out the approximate floor area of all the floors or areas in the house that are heated. Make sure not to include garages or outhouses unless they are heated or have high electrical loads.
The annual total number of kWh (or units) used for electricity and heating calculated from current bills are added together. This figure is then divided by the floor area. This will give you the energy rating for your home, for a particular year.
It’s worth considering that certain fuels will require bulk storage like a coal bunker, oil tank, or wood gasification and biomass fuels.
Fuel storage units can be a bit of an eye-sore, so it’s important to keep this in mind at the design stages of your build to save you fighting for space when it comes to brass tacks.
5. ‘No heat homes’
If you are really innovative in how you design your home, you may not require fuel at all!
Passive housing, a building technique originated in Germany, involves building using the highest levels of insulation, triple glazing and airtightness, so much so that the house loses so little heat you can do without radiators and even underfloor heating.
You will still need some method of heating hot water, in which case a wood burning stove would be sufficient.
Sounds ideal really, doesn’t it?
Are you thinking of building your own home?
Check out this handy guide to building your home in Ireland complete with stories from EBS customers who have already built a home.
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